ARC Review: Beautiful Broken Girls by Kim Savage

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Release Date: Feb 21, 2017

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Mira and Francesca Cillo—beautiful, overprotected, odd—seemed untouchable. But Ben touched seven parts of Mira: her palm, hair, chest, cheek, lips, throat, and heart. After the sisters drown themselves in the quarry lake, a post-mortem letter from Mira sends Ben on a quest to find notes in the seven places where they touched. Note by note, Ben discovers the mystical secret at the heart of Mira and Francesca’s world, and that some things are better left untouched.

review2/5 Stars 

***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley & Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group

+++Potential triggers for: sexual abuse, death/loss, suicide

Beautiful Broken Girls is the kind of book you tilt your head and look at sideways, puzzled and perplexed, trying to figure out what happened and how it evolved into what it did. Unfortunately for me, even when the mystery unraveled, there were so many questions left unanswered that I was at a loss for what to make of this bizarre story.

When I initially saw this cover, I knew I had to have it. It’s creepy and unsettling. It looks like something out of a horror film, so that’s kind of what I expected when I opened the book. This is not that kind of story. At its core, Beautiful Broken Girls is a mystery and an ode to learning to cope after a horrible tragedy, and for Ben, after a lost first love. 

The story is told from multiple characters (Mira, Francesca, and Ben) and takes place in two different years. The pieces are not in order and are further separated by body parts that Ben touched on Mira when they were seeing each other. If it sounds strange, that’s because it is. The idea itself is an interesting one. Getting to each note that Mira left for Ben was like a nostalgic scavenger hunt as he relived the sensual moments he had with Mira as they feel for each other. What the notes meant and getting to the truth propelled the story forward, even when the pacing was excessively slow. 

I made guesses throughout the story about what really happened to the dead girls; I suggest trying this and seeing if you guessed right. I did, to an extent. As the story evolves and the clues are found-in the form of Mira’s cryptic little poem snippets-Ben makes a whirlwind of assumptions. It’s hard to talk about this book without giving anything away and I HATE spoilers. One of the first things you learn about Ben, is that he was molested as a child in little league. So he’s known as touched or damaged. There is so much wrong with this, but I digress. Apart from the fact that this is used as a device by others in the story so that Ben is doubted and seen as projecting his past on the situation, it didn’t really function in the story and threw me off as a story arc. It felt like so many elements of this book were jumbled and thrown in and never really came together to form a coherent narrative. 

One of my major issues was with voice. Ben, the other boys, Mira, basically everyone in the story, despite being set in 2015-2016, felt like they were using language from the 80s or 90s. Maybe even before that. It could be the setting and maybe those phrases are abundant and natural there, but to me, it felt off. Some phrases are crude and made me feel slimy, and other times, it felt like things were thrown in to emphasize that they were teenage boys, whether they were realistic or not. You’re introduced to a lot of characters at once. It took a bit for them to develop into their own people, it was hard to distinguish them at first because of how they were introduced. 

I labeled this with a mental illness tag because of some of the descriptions of Mira and the actions of Francesca (which I can’t really go into without spoilers). But Mira has some disturbing imagery attached to her and her thoughts that make you question her…though somehow nowhere near the way you do Francesca and Mira almost functioned as a secondary character-her voice, her personality, the romance, none of it was emphasized or clear. Mira flitted in and out of the story and there are brief interludes of memory, but other than that, she fades away-ghostly. Back to the point, these thoughts, like wanting to drink toxic chemicals or throw herself off a cliff are dangerous, reckless, borderline suicidal and very disturbing, and yet, they’re just there. Not really deliberated over or anything and it makes you wonder why even put them there other than to show that Mira was messed up too. 

I wasn’t invested in the characters, I was invested in the mystery. The need to know what happened was enough. However, that ending, the truth, the reveal, what about all of the other stuff? Was it real? Was it a psychological issue? So many questions. If you’re looking for something weird, something that when you finish reading you’ll question what you just read, then check this out. 

If you like any of the following, you’ll enjoy this:

Mysterious reading, 

Jordan

ARC Review: Illuminate-Tracy Clark

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synCan one girl be the light in a world spiraling toward darkness?

Haunted by the loss of her loved ones, Cora Sandoval, one of the remaining few of an extraordinary race known as Scintilla, holds the key to disentangling the biggest conspiracy in human history…and its link to the fate of the human race. As Cora follows a trail of centuries-old clues and secrets, she collides with a truth not only shocking, but dangerous.

With enemies both known and unknown hot on her trail, Cora must locate each of the ancient clues hidden in the art, religions, and mythologies of humankind. And through it all, she must keep her heart from being torn apart by the two boys she loves most. One is Scintilla, one is Arazzi.

Save herself. Save the Scintilla. Save the world.
Or die trying…

review4/5 Stars

***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley & Entangled: Teen

Illuminate is a breathtaking and beautiful conclusion to the Light Key Trilogy. Part cosmic puzzle, mythology, and romance, this epic battle of Light vs Dark ends in a stunning, explosive burst of hope and heart. 

READ THIS BOOK IF:

  • You love films like National Treasure and The Da Vinci Code 
  • You’re hungry for a maddening puzzle filled with art and literature references
  • You want your heart to feel so full it might burst from the sheer outpouring of love and hope

PROS:

  • Wow. This book. It’s incredible. A puzzle that crosses the lines between history, art, religion and myth, you’ll rush to decipher clues and piece everything together before it’s too late. I was insanely impressed with how well everything fit together. You’ll want to believe. An adrenaline rush of constant adventure and unexpected connections, have your phone handy to look up the art references, it gives the story a whole new dimension.
  • THAT ENDING. You know those far and few moments in a story where you’re so moved that you know that scene will stay with you forever? This was it for me. Think the end of The Amber Spyglass. 
  • Cora has come so far from the beginning of the book. She’s a dazzling, fierce young woman who lives her beliefs. She’s courageous, endearing and easy to relate to. Her relationship struggles are full of confusion and angst. Her heart is open and has loved so deeply, for different reasons, it really shows that true love and connection can happen on the soul-level more than once. Cora’s selflessness super charges her compassion. Her willingness to give herself freely is uplifting and deeply moving. 
  • Finn is conflicted. He wars with the thirst inside him to take and the giving side that wants nothing more than to share his love freely with Cora. His loyalty to his heritage, the secrets he unravels all put him in a precarious situation and in the middle of both groups. Finn’s devotion to Cora is beyond swoon-worthy, it’s transcendent. She is everything to him and despite everything working against them, destiny included it seems, he refuses to let her go.
  • Giovanni is fiery, impulsive and stubborn but intense and driven. He makes decisions and easily falls into the role of a leader. For the first time, Giovanni understands what it means to be grounded, to find a home, and to have something precious worth fighting for. The threat of losing more than his life makes him grow up fast and he becomes an irresistable force. 
  • The romance is complex and passionate. Each pairing has different complications but the love radiates off the pages in piercing bursts of understanding and adoration. It’s about more than lust, it’s about that forever kind of love that can move mountains, that can change the world. 

CONS:

  • The story is high stress, high danger and because of that, there aren’t many light, carefree moments. While there’s a lot of love, the silly, flirty fun that was in previous books was absent. I found myself missing Finn’s cute accent, roguish quips, as well as Giovanni’s intensity. 
  • Some story elements felt incomplete. The situation with Claire, the Catholic priest, the role of the Church, it was all a little rushed and a stronger, clear picture of the exact intentions and the shared responsibility with the Arazzi would have helped with the magnitude and reach of the danger. 

If you like any of the following, you’ll enjoy this:

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Jordan

ARC Review: Awake-Natasha Preston

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Release Date: August 4, 2015cooltext1889161239 copy

Scarlett doesn’t remember anything before the age of five. Her parents say it’s from the trauma of seeing her house burn down, and she accepts the life they’ve created for her without question—until a car accident causes Scarlett to start remembering pieces of an unfamiliar past.

When a new guy moves into town, Scarlett feels an instant spark. But Noah knows the truth of Scarlett’s past, and he’s determined to shield her from it…because Scarlett grew up in a cult called Eternal Light, controlled by her biological parents.

And they want her back.

cooltext1889171582 copy2/5 Stars

***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley & SOURCEBOOKS Fire

PROS:

  • The cult is creepy and delusional. The absolute belief they have in their faith is disturbing. They don’t question or doubt, they mindlessly carry on despite the horrific requests made by their leaders in the name of earning a ticket to Heaven. The preparations are ritualistic and if it weren’t for their vegetarianism and connection to living off the earth, would seem a little Satanic. 
  • The last few chapters are adrenaline-packed and full of uncertainty. The fear is clear and haunting. The danger escalates and foreboding overtakes the story. You might want to read this with the lights on. Violence and desperation war with the fight for survival. 

CONS:

  • It took an obsenely long time to reveal what Noah is. For more than half the book he was giving me alien vibes only to find out the truth way far in. 
  • Scarlett and Noah don’t have strong or memorable personalities. Their interactions largely consist of sitting in bed watching movies and nothing else. It was difficult to become attached to either character because there wasn’t much to them.
  • Secondary characters were basically nonexistent. They show up for small moments and then vanish. Scarlett’s best friend falls in the realm of the cliché, jealous slutty friend. 
  • Pacing in slow and it makes the story hard to commit to. The mystery compelled me to read on.

If you like any of the following, you’ll enjoy this:

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Review: Winterkill-Kate A. Boorman

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cooltext1889161239 copyWhere Emmeline lives, you cannot love and you cannot leave…

The Council’s rules are strict, but they’re for the good of the settlement in which Emmeline lives. Everyone knows there is nothing but danger the other side of the Wall, and the community must prepare for the freezing winterkill that comes every year.

But Emmeline struggles to be obedient under the Council’s suffocating embrace – especially when she discovers that a Council leader intends to snatch her hand in marriage.

Then Emmeline begins to hear the call of the trees beyond the Wall…

cooltext1889171582 copy3/5 Stars

Winterkill is an eerie mystery. Haunting and cryptic, Winterkill has an undeniable pull. 

PROS:

  • Mystery drives the plot. The creepy, cult-like fanaticism of the community is heavy. The oppressive, sinister tone will give you chills. You can feel the danger, a deep impending doom that increases as the book progresses. There’s so much that those who are not part of the Council don’t know, so many rules, that you’ll want to discover the truth, it’s maddening.
  • The community is all sorts of horrifying. The 3 steps to being a good member of the community, the monster that terrorizes the forest, the whispers in the trees, the harsh punishments, all of it adds to the suspense. The history of the peoples, Emmeline’s stain, the views on sin and heritage, it all is suffocating, intriguing, and complex. 
  • Emmeline is tormented by the mistakes of her ancestors. Labeled as wayward, stained, Emmeline is ridiculed by members of the community as destined to fall into sin. Her crushed foot is a mark that weighs heavy on her soul. Emmeline has few hopes but the forest calls to her and it is there that she can dream. Emmeline is a little self-destructive, inquisitive, and loving, she sniffs out mysteries and hunts down the truth but it puts her in danger. There’s something rebellious in Emmeline that makes her attractive, different, someone you can root for. 
  • Gabriel (Stockham) is a creeper of epic proportions. There’s an off, bizarre way he moves, talks, touches Emmeline and yet, you don’t know if he’s sincere or if his past has scarred him horribly. There’s so many layers to his character that you’ll spend a substantial amount of the book trying to figure him out. I loved this character. 

CONS:

  • The pacing is slow and it’s hard to stay focused. Not much happens in this closed-off society and despite Emmeline’s wayward ways, there’s not enough drama and when it does come, it’s well into the book. 
  • Characters aren’t particularly memorable, they are so courteous and conscientious that they fall flat. Secondary characters, with the exception of one or two fade into the background and you almost forget about them.
  • The attraction between Kane and Emmeline is mystifying. It’s sudden and random, there’s not substantial build up and the chemistry is pale in comparison to the disturbing and obsessive passion of Gabriel.  
  • Sections of the book are in French. I speak French but I think for the average person, it might get a bit much. Sometimes you have to infer what is being said. 

If you like any of the following, you’ll enjoy this:

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Short Story Blitz: Capricious, The Winter of Harms, Turmoil (Before I Break series)-Alec John Belle

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These short stories are releasing two weeks apart from one another, from different character perspectives, they will lead up to the main event of the release of Before I Break. These stories are FREE and will be posted on Author Alec John Belle’s Blog Before I Break and the short stories are young adult focusing on LGBT and social issues.

 
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cooltext1889161239 copyIn this haunting prequel short story to Before I Break, Jake struggles with the idea of religion, homosexuality, and life as he deals with an obvious mental illness.
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cooltext1889161239 copyIn Avery’s journal, read to uncover the start of Avery’s depression, and the mistake that almost takes his life.

 

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As Melissa gets into her relationship with Cyril, she can’t help but look at other girls.  But Melissa loves Cyril, right?

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cooltext1889161239 copyWhen religiously raised Cyril Hayes begins his junior year at East Hill High School, every choice he makes suffers a greater consequence, and while facing challenges of friends, family, and love, learns that hate and intolerance are also a very large part of our world today.

Cyril Hayes is seemingly just like any other male his age. He has the perfect girlfriend, Melissa Summers, his best friend, Jake Rivers, and a lawyer father who brings home enough money to support his family and then some. When Cyril begins his junior year, he doesn’t expect his life to spiral out of control when he meets Avery Branson, the new kid in school who has a big secret: he’s gay.

At first, Cyril doesn’t handle this truth well, due to the way he was raised, but as the story progresses, he ventures deep into the reality of homosexuality and begins to accept Avery for who he is. Not everyone is happy with Cyril’s new friend, including Jake, who believes that homosexuality is a sin and is refusing to change his beliefs.

But Avery isn’t the only one at East Hill with secrets, and soon a tragedy will strike, knocking Cyril’s world completely off balance and leaving a scar on his heart that will change his view of humanity all together.

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Pleasant reading,

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